Richard Tapia, a highly regarded professor of engineering and award-winning mentor to minority students, will give the PSU Spring Commencement address—in two ceremonies—Sunday, June 16, at the Rose Garden Arena. For the first time, the University is holding a morning ceremony for all graduates of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and an afternoon rite for all other graduates. This arrangement replaces summer commencement and is an effort to shorten the ceremony for students and their families.
Tapia is a university professor and Maxfield-Oshman Professor of Engineering at Rice University. Due to his efforts, Rice University has received national recognition for its educational outreach programs, and the Rice Computational and Applied Mathematics Department has become a national leader in producing women and underrepresented minority doctorate graduates in the mathematical sciences.
In 1996, Tapia received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring from President Bill Clinton and was appointed by the president to the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation. He received the Lifetime Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1997, and he was named one of 20 most influential leaders in minority math education by the National Research Council.
Tapia’s major research contributions have been in the area of computational optimization, both linear and nonlinear programming, where he pioneered the exploration and settlement of the important computational methods in numerical optimization known as primal-dual interior point methods.
The PSU Spring Commencement program for graduates of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences begins at 10 a.m., and the program for all other graduates begins at 3:30 p.m.